Microsoft Windows (any version) is notorious for being a magnet for viruses, spyware and malware in general. Because these threats to Windows are often misunderstood by users it may seem like one would need a degree in computer science to protect against them. Not so! Following a few simple rules will keep you safe from these threats and keep you operating safely and efficiently:
- Stop using Internet Explorer: There is better browser software available at no charge that has better features, displays web sites better and is generally faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Not to mention, some exploits that certain websites use to invade your Windows computer just won’t work on other browsers. We recommend the following browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera.
- Stop using Microsoft Outlook: A large percentage of malware and viruses are spread via spam email messages. Because Microsoft Outlook (and Outlook Express) is the most widely used email client software, it is targeted the most by virus writers. If you have no choice but to use Outlook, at least be sure to use a good anti-virus package such as AVG Anti-virus, Panda Anti-virus, Kaspersky Anti-virus, etc. You can also use another email program such as Mozilla Thunderbird. Our favorite.
- Install Windows Updates: Keeping Microsoft Windows updated with the latest security fixes is immensely important. We recommend that you enable automatic updates in Windows and install the updates with prompted. Even though Microsoft’s Windows security model is severely lacking at least they make an attempt to patch their software on a regular basis.
- Install Anti-Virus Software: Protecting your computer with anti-virus software is required if you’re using Microsoft Windows. We recommend AVG Free, Panda Anti-Virus or Kaspersky Anti-virus software. There are other choices like Norton anti-virus or McAfee but in our opinion these anti-virus packages are too cumbersome and will slow your computer down. Not to mention, some of them (McAfee) behave like viruses themselves when you try to remove them. Also, be sure to keep your anti-virus package definitions updated. Most of them will do this automatically.
- Use Common Sense: If you receive an email from someone you don’t know especially with an attachment, delete it without opening it. If you access a web site that looks like it was quickly thrown together, that is, not professionally designed, close it. If you access a web site that pops-up a window informing you that you have a virus. Kill the browser processing using Windows Task Manager.
- Use Spybot Search & Destroy: Running regular scans with Spybot will remove any spyware that exists on your computer and protect it from further infection. Be sure to also update Spybot regularly.
Following these basic guidelines will dramatically reduce your exposure to Windows viruses and malware in general.